When you ask a Tampa Bay Lightning fan about their prospects in the system, many fans will be quick to say Cory Conacher or Tyler Johnson. However, many Lightning fans may have overlooked 21-year-old Ondrej Palat.
Palat was drafted by Tampa Bay in the 2011 NHL entry draft in the 7th round or 208th overall. The Frydek-Mistek Czech Republic native was 20 when he was drafted by the Lightning. That made the 6ft left-winger eligible to play in the AHL for the up-coming season.
In 2008-2009 Palat won the Gold Medal with the U-18 Czech team in the U-18 Tournament playing in 6 games and only putting up 1 point.
Before coming to the Lightning organization, Ondrej played two seasons for the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL where he put up a whopping 136 points over his two-season stint. This 7th round pick finished 4th in the QMJHL in scoring proving he knows how to put the biscuit in the basket.
Palat signed his 3-year entry deal on October 10, 2011. After signing his entry deal, Tampa Bay assigned him to their AHL affiliate the Norfolk Admirals. Palat ended the regular season with 30 points in 61 games. During the Admirals Calder Cup run he tallied 9 points in 18 games.
Ondrej’s strengths are finding openings on the ice and utilizing them to his advantage and his very good foot speed that he uses in his strides while skating.
Palat has proven that he can play the offensive game, however, he seems to shy away from the physical game. In order to make it to the next level, Palat needs to work on his physical game so he can become a more rounded player at both ends of the ice. This will take time, but when this happens the NHL will have another Radim Vrbata on their hands.